You Probably Won't Guess What These Top Athletes Have in Common

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By Gene Marks, Small Business Expert

Gordon Hayward plays basketball in the NBA for the Utah Jazz. DeMarre Carroll plays for the Toronto Raptors. And Andrew Nicholson is a power forward for the Orlando Magic and runs a basketball camp.

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Brandon Bair is an NFL defensive end. D.J. Fluker plays offensive guard for the San Diego Chargers. Davon House plays cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars. And A.J. Hawk is a linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals and the host of a popular podcast.

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And then there's Ronaldo, an international soccer star from Brazil and considered one of the greatest players of all time, who now runs a soccer academy

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Go ahead … click on the links above. Notice anything? Anything in common?

Sure, these guys play different sports. And no one’s going to say that draining a 3-pointer takes the same amount of talent as sinking a hundred-foot putt or blocking a 300 pound offensive lineman. But these basketball players, football stars and golfing pros really do share something very important in common: their brands.

Which is why they, and many other athletes like them, don’t have typical websites.

Look again. Click again.

Their websites aren’t 'dot-coms,' are they? Many have 'dot-life' (.life). The golfers all have 'dot-golf' (.golf). Hawk’s podcast site has a 'dot-show' (.show) domain, and Nicholson’s basketball camp can be found at -- why not -- 'dot-camp' (.camp).

Smart people. And savvy entrepreneurs. These players know that they are known by their names. And their names are their brands. And they have all been smart enough to take their brands to the next level. They’ve taken advantage of a change in the Internet to maximize their online presence. They’ve made their websites to match their names.

It started back in 2004 when, as the Internet began reaching its capacity, hundreds of new domains were established. From generic words, like 'dot-today' (.today) or 'dot-company' (.company) to very specific ones like 'dot-florist' (.florist) or 'dot-wine' (.wine), there is tremendous variety where there used to be scarcity.

These sports stars aren't alone in jumping on the “not-com” trend. This digital branding tool is catching fire with individual businesses and organizations -- check out Upshot.agency, Driftaway.coffee and BornThisWay.foundation, for example.

I know this may come as difficult news, but you’re not going to play in the NBA. You will not be in the Super Bowl. You will not participate in the Masters. But it’s OK. You’re still special, so don’t feel bad. Those guys are just … well … a little more special.

But that’s fine -- you can still be like them. You can establish your own domain that makes your individual or company’s brand stand out as well. It’s new a thing. And it’s a popular thing. The celebrities and sports stars are taking notice. Maybe you should, too.

Gene Marks is a small business expert who contributes regularly to the Washington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur, MSNBC, CNBC and FOX News. In addition to authoring several books on business management and serving as a public speaker for the small business community, he owns Marks Group PC, a firm that provides technology and consulting services to businesses across the U.S. Marks is a client of Donuts Inc., but all thoughts and opinions expressed above are his own.